Over the past few months, the news has been riddled with stories of a surgical tech who diverted drugs in 4 states. He was finally caught in Colorado when a fellow employee finally turned him in. But the question remains, how did he go from a Navy court martial to wreaking havoc across multiple states and several hospitals?
We hear more about drug diversion, especially over the last decade, because we are catching more diverters. Kim New, executive director of the International Health Facility Diversion Association, states that “diversion almost certainly occurs at every institution that handles controlled substances, and the rate of discovery of diversion events has increased steadily over the past decade. “ And while most facilities have certain protocols in place, there is no formal set of rules to govern all, so there remains lots of gray areas which allow employees to slip through the cracks.
The state of Colorado has acted quickly again in response to this recent diversion event which has put thousands at risk for bloodborne pathogens. They are in process of passing legislation for mandatory background checks of surgical techs. Since most states do not even require the most basic registration for surgical techs, Colorado remains ahead of the curve. Suffice it to say, even with the extra measures, it is still not enough to put an end to the diversion problem.
David Olinger and Christopher Osher, reporters for the Denver Post, summed it up in their February 28th DP article. “The repeated failures highlight a stunning lack of communication among government agencies and hospitals.” While some have called these steps to be redundant and unnecessary, there is another set of drug diversion specialists calling for standardization of drug diversion management.
When word broke of the events of diversion in Colorado, I heard from reporters, lawyers and other interested parties who were all asking the same questions. How do we tighten up the system to reduce the incidence of diversion? Where do we go for education on this issue?
I applaud the asking of these questions as it speaks to the need for change as well as having people in positions to help make those changes happen. Honestly, we do not need to reinvent the wheel. What we need to do is learn form those who have already developed resources for healthcare facilities.
Please find a complete resource list, thanks to Kim New, below:
Road Map and Tool Kit
Drug Diversion in Hospitals: A Guide to Preventing and Investigating Diversion Issues
CDC injection safety and blog
Drug Diversion workgroup
The One and Only Campaign in NJ, drug diversion coalition
The One and Only Campaign New York, podcast
North Carolina diversion group, prevention and detection